Tainted Archives: Art, Archives, and Authenticity

  • Rodney G.S. Carter


This article examines an unprecedented case of art fraud and archival tampering. It describes the case of John Drewe, a con man who inserted fraudulent documents in the archives of British art institutions in order to create provenances for forged art works. The article details how the archives were infiltrated and outlines the havoc wrought on the British art world as a result. The article finishes by examining the implications of the case for both the art and archival worlds.


Cet article examine un cas sans précédent de fraude artistique et de falsification de documents d’archives. Il raconte le cas de John Drewe, un escroc qui a inséré des faux documents dans des archives d’institutions d’art britanniques dans le but de créer des provenances pour des copies d’oeuvres d’art. Le texte explique comment les archives ont été infiltrées et décrit le chaos engendré dans le monde de l’art britannique suite à ses actions. Le texte se termine en examinant la portée de ce cas tant pour le monde de l’art que pour le monde des archives.

Author Biography

Rodney G.S. Carter
Rodney G.S. Carter is the Archivist for the St. Joseph Region of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, based in Kingston, Ontario. He received an Honours BA in Art History from Queen’s University in 2002, and a Masters of Information Studies, archival stream, from the University of Toronto in 2005. His article “Of Things Said and Unsaid: Power, Archival Silence, and Power in Silences” appeared in Archivaria 61 (Spring 2006). He is the Chair of the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA) Religious Archives Special Interest Section (RASIS).
How to Cite
Carter, Rodney G.S. 1. “Tainted Archives: Art, Archives, and Authenticity”. Archivaria 63 (1), 75-86. https://www.archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/13128.
Special Section on Archives and Culture